Discover how glass arrived in Britain, how it’s made and why Sunderland has such a rich glass making heritage here at National Glass Centre.
On your visit learn about the Anglo-Saxon abbot, Saint Benedict Biscop, who first brought glass making to Sunderland, and Britain, back in the 7th Century AD. Biscop and his team of glaziers produced stained glass for the impressive windows at Bishopwearmouth Monastery.
Fast forward over 1300 years later and explore how the craftsmen of Sunderland’s factories, such as Pyrex and Hartley Woods, went on to produce some of the finest glass in the world century after century.
Today, our resident glass makers keep those skills alive. Trained in the art of turning molten glass into beautiful pieces of art, the Centre’s glass blowing team create all manner of things, from glass baubles at Christmas to hearts for Valentine’s Day. Watching this can be enjoyed from the comfort of a seat at one of our six daily glass demonstrations with commentary, or you can get even closer to the action and book a hands-on glass making experience.
In our exhibition spaces, you can marvel at some of the world’s finest contemporary glass and ceramic artists, as well as up and coming artists currently studying with the University of Sunderland.
2018 also saw the addition of Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art to the building, meaning you can now enjoy a regularly changing programme of both established and emerging contemporary artists work.
We are dedicated to creating opportunities for everyone to have a go and be involved in arts and culture. Our learning team deliver an extensive family crafts programme with lots to do for all ages, such as glass painting, glass sandcasting, glass fusing and ceramic crafts. Keep an eye out for things to do, especially around school holiday times via our What’s On.
You can also pick up your own souvenir or stunning example of glass art in our gift shop, kids love the marbles, before taking a well-earned rest in The Glass Yard cafe with its captivating views out onto the River Wear.
Note: Prices are a guide only and may change on a daily basis.
- VAQAS VB Attraction VAQAS
- Visit England Code of Practice 2014
- Regional and Miscellaneous North East England Tourism Awards - Large Visitor Attraction of the Year Award – Bronze 2014
- All Areas Accessible to Disabled Visitors
- Facilities for Hearing Impaired Visitors - Induction loops in pod conference room and education room.
- Facilities for Visually Impaired Visitors - Large print and braille information and signage.
- Guide Dogs Permitted
- Parking Areas for Disabled Visitors
- Ramp / Level Access
- Toilets for Disabled Visitors
- On-Site café/restaurant - Restaurant catering for 100 people, serving full meals and snacks throughout the day. Special group discount packages available.
- Picnic Site
- Polish spoken
Parking & Transport
- Car parking
- On site parking
- Parking (free)
- Approx length of visit - 2 hours to 1/2 a day
- Blue Badge Guides admitted free
- Delta accepted
- Groups Accepted - Essential to prebook.
- Maestro accepted
- MasterCard accepted
- Special group rates - Meal packages
- Sterling Travellers Cheques accepted
- TIC Staff Admitted Free
- Visa accepted
- Conference facilities - Five different rooms of various sizes can accomodate groups up to 250 people.
- Event Venue
- In town/city centre
- Indoor Attraction
- No Smoking Attraction
- Family Fun - Workshops held regularly, please contact reception for a What's on Guide
- Marketed Towards Children
- Marketed Towards Families
- Marketed Towards Senior Citizens
- Marketed Towards Students / Youth
Tours and Demonstrations
- Demonstrations Given
- Educational Visits Accepted - 5 meeting rooms available which can hold between 1 and 250 people.
- Guided Tours Available for Groups
- Guided Tours Available for Individuals
Map & Directions
From North: Depart Tyne Tunnel and follow A19 to Sunderland for approximately 4 miles. Take A1231 Sunderland/Gateshead exit and turn left at the roundabout (A1231) Sunderland. From South: Join A19 North and take A1231 Sunderland/Gateshead exit. Turn left at the roundabout (A1231 Sunderland). Follow the brown directional signs to the National Glass Centre.
Public Transport Directions
Metro: Nearest station is St Peters or Sunderland Station.Cycle: The National Glass Centre is part of the C2C Cycle Route and the Coast to Coast Cycle Trail from Whitehaven, Cumbria to Roker in Sunderland. By Train: Regular services operate between Sunderland and Newcastle every 30 minutes. Travelling from the east coast mainline (Darlington, Leeds and London) is via Newcastle. There is a direct rail link to Sunderland from Middlesbrough every hour.